The Cooperative Research Centres Association is a not-for-profit organisation operating to promote the pursuit of science, particularly through the Australian Government’s CRC Program.

You don’t have to be a CRC to join, find out more about our types of membership and benefits of joining the association.

CRCs cut again in Federal Budget

The future of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme will become clear in the next week. Despite yet another funding cut in the Federal Budget last week, it is expected that the programme will continue. The 2014-2015 Review of the CRC Programme by David Miles AM is expected to be released this week, or at the latest by early next week.
Minister Ian Macfarlane will give the Opening Keynote Address at the Australia 2040 Forum in Parliament House next Tuesday 26 May. The Minister is expected to give his views on the future directions for Cooperative Research Centres. Several outstanding CRC proposals are likely to be made clear in the Minister’s speech.
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Exploring collaboration opportunities with Japan

The CRC Association will participate in a small workshop exploring Japan-Australia collaborative research opportunities. The workshop in the Australian Embassy in Tokyo on May 13 will bring together a number of programmes from Australia and Japan. Both countries have a common interest in better forms of collaboration between industry and publicly-funded research organisations, as well as increased international links. Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association, will speak on the CRC programme.

Dr Peacock will also be exploring the topic of industry-university research partnerships during June/July this year when he undertakes a Monash University Churchill Fellowship. He will look at a range of programmes in the USA, Germany, the UK and Singapore.

CRC review now with Minister

David Miles’ Review of the Cooperative Research Centres Programme is with the Minister for Industry and Science, Ian Macfarlane, but the timing of a response is not known.

Fears about the future of the programme seem to have disappeared. During review consultations, Mr Miles had repeatedly said that the CRC Programme was “not under threat, it is under review”. However, the curtailing of the 17th funding round, an $80 million budget hit and reporting of some comments made by Minister Macfarlane had amplified concerns about with the viability of future funding rounds.

“We don’t know the timing of the release of the Miles Review or any changed guidelines. Things are complicated as the government is preparing the 2015 budget and the science priorities are getting sorted out” said Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association.

“My advice is that bidders should be ready. The funding round immediately after a review is often squeezed for time. That’s what happened after the Howard Review and the O’Kane Review and looks likely to be the case for the Miles Review. My best guess is that the Minister will want to see changes to the guidelines and that industry leadership is likely to be further emphasised”.


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NCRISIS illustrates the need for Strategy‏

Commentary from Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association

Christopher Pyne’s backdown on linking the funding of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme to the university reform legislation has caused a major sigh of relief in the research sector. But the relief is currently only for 12 months and should never have occurred in the first place.

NCRIS is a great scheme. Australia is too small a place for every State or every research organisation to have the latest and greatest bit of “kit”. Before NCRIS, that was the way we tended to fund things. The then Major National Research Facilities program was much more competitive and cut-throat. There were some good examples of sharing facilities but not many. NCRIS changed things. Introduced by the Howard Government, the scheme allowed for staffing to run the infrastructure as well as the building and machines themselves. More importantly, NCRIS facilities were developed following extensive consultations in their sector with business plans and governance put in place to maximise their use and impact.

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Still the “Clever Country”?

Yesterday morning in Canberra, the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC launched a report from Professionals Australia called “Still the Clever Country?”

Professional Australia has surveyed its members and found that their top concerns about science are the need for government funding and the need for a more strategic and sustainable approach.

Professor Chubb noted significant progress towards a more strategic approach to Australia’s science. He indicated that the Commonwealth Science Council met in late 2014 and had now tasked him and his office to come back to the Council turning the current ideas and proposals into actions.

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DibbsBarker CRC Workshops – 25 May 2015, Novotel, Canberra

Rachel Sciascia, Special Counsel and Kerrin Anderson, Consultant of DibbsBarker will run two workshops in Canberra to coincide with the CRC Association Conference. Rachel and Kerrin are the co-authors of the CRC Governance Guide commissioned by the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science and Tertiary Education (now the Department of Industry and Science).

In the morning Rachel and Kerrin will cover issues in establishing a CRC, in which they will cover the Commonwealth agreement, structuring your CRC, CRC governance, IP ownership, IP utilisation and planning an exit.

The afternoon session will be dedicated to winding up a CRC. This session will cover planning the exit, transitioning to ongoing centres, winding up, the winding up deed and winding up the entities.

You can register for either of both sessions.
Establishment session will run from 9am – 12pm
Winding up session will run from 1pm – 3:30pm.

Registration is $50 each per session or $80 each for both sessions. Email Rachel Sciascia on to register.

Big step forward in Industry Growth Centres

Industry and Science Minister, Ian Macfarlane, has named the Chairs of three of the five proposed Industry Growth Centres and said he expects the Centres to be up and running by the middle of the year. Minister Macfarlane also named the members of the independent Advisory Committee for the government’s $188.5 million Growth Centres initiative. The Chairs of the Growth Centres are:

Mr Andrew Stevens, chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre;
Ms Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, chair of the Mining Equipment, Technology and Sevices Growth Centre and
Mr Peter Schutz, chair of the Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre.

The remaining two appointments (for the Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre and the Oil, Gas and Energy Growth Centre) will be named shortly. The Advisory Committee for the Growth Centres Initiative is Mr John Grill AO (Chair), Ms Catherine Livingstone AO, Dr Andrew Liveris AO and Ms Carolyn Hewson AO. Mr Macfarlane’s announcement can be found here.

Several weeks ago, Minister Macfarlane assured Australian research into carbon capture and storage (CCS) to 2020 with the announcement that the Australian Government would provide $25 million over five years to the CO2CRC Otway Project and related activities. Welcoming the funding announcement, CO2CRC’s new chief executive officer, Tania Constable, commended the Australian Government for supporting CCS as an essential component in a portfolio of low- and zero-carbon emissions technologies required to tackle climate change.

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Registration Now Open !

Registrations are now open for the 2015 CRC Association Conference, The Australia 2040 Forum.

This year is the 25th Anniversary of the Cooperative Research Centres Program. To celebrate this milestone, we are holding our annual conference in Canberra from 25-27 May 2015.

The Australia 2040 Forum will be held on 26 May in Australian Parliament House. We will look back 25 years over the achievements of Cooperative Research Centres and 25 years into the future, examining the challenges and opportunities for Australia in the next quarter century. A showcase of CRC achievements and the Excellence in Innovation Awards will be held in the Great Hall that evening. A series of important workshops will be held on the 27th.

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Dr Tony Peacock and Alex Sloan talk to Dr Rodger Campbell and Professor Richard Hillis on 666 ABC.

 Flying start for CRCs in 2015

The CRC for Deep Exploration Technologies yesterday announced a major commercialisation outcome, AutoSonde, with industry partner Boart Longyear, leading global supplier of drilling services, equipment and performance tooling.

The AutoSonde technology enables the collection or geophysical data while a hole is being drilled instead of the current method of having a specialist crew carry out the process once the drill rig has left, which adds significant time, cost and risk to the process.

AusScan, a NIRS (near infrared reflectance spectroscopy) technology developed by the Pork CRC for  rapidly determining the effective energy value for grains (wheat, barley, triticale and sorghum –working on corn) plus many other nutrients including amino acid levels, is now being globalised through a recent partnership with Aunir.

This technology will allow growers to maximise the efficiency with which grains are utilised and provides for more consistent animal performance.

Catapult Group International Ltd (Catapult Sports) commercialised research from the CRC for MicroTechnology and is now used by over 350 sports teams around the world to track and monitor their athletes. The Asia Cup winning Socceroos use the technology. In December the company had a successful Initial Public Offering with a market capitalisation of $66 million.

Late last year the Cell Therapy Manufacturing CRC inked a key intellectual property deal with industry partner Terumo BCT. Through the deal Terumo has supplied a new bioreactor which will allow growing cells on a larger scale and test processes working on cell growth.

If this is any indication how the rest of the year will play out, CRCs are in for another fantastic year.

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Science Meets Policymakers

Science & Technology Australia, in partnership Asia and the Pacific Policy Society at Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, invites registrations for a one-day conference to enable policymakers and scientists to achieve better public policy outcomes.

Science meets Policymakers will bring together researchers from a range of disciplines and policymakers from various government departments to examine the intersection between the evidence base and policy development.

Note: Registration for Science meets Policymakers (not to be confused with Science meets Parliament in late March 2015) is open to all and there are no restrictions on the number of registrations from individual organisations.

Participants in the event will include policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, practising scientists, and representatives from scientific societies and industries employing scientists.

Confirmed speakers and session chairs include:

·      Dr Michael Keating AC, FASSA, FIPAA
·      Professor Brian Schmidt AC
·      Professor Veronica Taylor
·      Professor Ian Chubb AC
·      Professor Gabriele Bammer
·      Professor Hugh White AO
·      Professor Tom Kompas
·      Professor Emily Banks
·      Professor Bruce Chapman
·      Professor Aidan Byrne
·      Rona Mellor PSM
·      Anne-Marie Lansdown

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An Important Year Ahead For Australian Innovation

Consolidating policy directions, renewed leadership and aspirations and even a low Australian dollar could mean we look back on 2015 as a very positive year in Australian innovation, writes Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association.

This year will see in a lot of changes in the Australian innovation scene. It isn’t a major review year like 2008 or 2002 but if you look at the various issues stacked up, there is the potential for 2015 to be the most important year in a decade or two. We are due to see a number of policy issues come together that will give the framework for much of the innovation scene over the next few years. Rarely have we had a year where so many leaders will be new and looking to make their mark. Finally, the reaction of the business world during 2015 will be critical to our future performance.

Innovation policy directions

There isn’t much doubt about how Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane (with “Science” now formally part of his title) views the direction of science and innovation policy. He is pretty plain spoken and he has consistently called for closer links between science and industry. He tells industry they need to step up at least as much as he says scientists need to focus more on collaboration with industry (although it never seems to get the same media coverage). He has repeatedly called Australia’s level of science-industry collaboration “appalling”, citing the same OECD figures Chief Scientist Ian Chubb has kept drawing our attention to.

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No impact of MYEFO on the Cooperative Research Centres Programme

The Government handed down the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) yesterday, overshadowed by the events that were unfolding in Sydney. All Government expenditure remains under considerable pressure, but changes in the Industry portfolio were relatively small.

Overall, the Industry portfolio’s expenditure will be reduced by almost $50 million in 2014-15 and about $200 million over the forward estimates. The biggest changes – both about $70 million over the forward estimates – are to the government’s administration of the National Training System and to payments to apprentices under the Adult Australia Apprentice scheme, which will cease.

The Industry Skills Fund, part of the recently announced Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda has received about $42 million. Another feature of that policy, the Industry Growth Centres, have had their budget adjusted to put more expenditure later in the forward estimates. But Departmental officials advise this will not affect their starting dates.

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Alex Sloan and Tony Peacock Chat With Dr Elizabeth Beach, CRC Researcher at the National Acoustics Laboratories on 666 Afternoons

Louise Maher chats with Associate Professor Elizabeth Scarr on 666 Afternoons

Alex Sloan chats with Tony Peacock & Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist On 666 Afternoons